Young woman pointing at bright teeth.

Teeth play an integral role in both your everyday life and your health. Beyond their basic functions of aiding with eating and speaking, teeth have an impact on our nutrition, self-esteem, and even social interactions. But even knowing this, teeth may seem, well, kind of boring.

We are here to challenge that thought with our list of interesting and sometimes surprising facts about your teeth!

Enamel is the Hardest Substance in Your Body

Tooth enamel is the outside surface of your tooth. It isn’t just tough; it’s the hardest substance in your entire body. This mineral-rich surface is primarily composed of hydroxyapatite, a crystalline calcium phosphate.

The hardness of enamel allows your teeth to endure the forces of chewing, which can average around 200 pounds of pressure!

Teeth Begin to Form Before Birth

Interestingly, the development of teeth starts long before a baby is born. By the time you were born, your primary (or baby) teeth were already formed in your jawbone, waiting to emerge. But most children will begin to see their first teeth erupt through the gums between six months and one year, marking a significant milestone in development.

Your Mouth Is Home to Both Good and Bad Bacteria

Over 700 different species of bacteria live in the mouth. In fact, this is the second-largest microbiota in the body (the gut is the first). While some bacteria are beneficial, others can be harmful and can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. Regular brushing and flossing help to manage these bacterial populations and protect your oral health.

Toothbrushes Have Been Around a Long Time

Speaking of brushing, people have been practicing oral hygiene for thousands of years…but not the way you think. The first toothbrushes are thought to have been used around 3500-3000 B.C. by the Babylonians and Egyptians. These were crude compared with modern nylon-bristled toothbrushes, which were only invented in 1938.

Saliva is Super Important

Saliva does more than just keep your mouth wet; it has a role to play in your dental health. Saliva is like a natural bath for your mouth, helping to wash away food particles, neutralize harmful acids produced by bacteria, and provide disease-fighting substances throughout the mouth. It also contains minerals that help reinforce enamel and repair early tooth decay.

Not Everyone Has Wisdom Teeth

An interesting evolutionary fact about humans and their teeth is that not everyone develops wisdom teeth. In fact, thanks to evolutionary changes, some people lack one or more of these third molars, or they never emerge. Scientists believe that changes in human diet and jaw size over thousands of years have made these teeth, which once played a role in grinding plant tissue, obsolete.

The Lifespan of a Taste Bud is Shockingly Short

Taste buds have a lifespan of only 10 to 14 days. Interestingly, not all parts of the tongue can sense every taste, as was once thought. Different regions of the tongue are more sensitive to specific tastes, though all areas can generally sense them. Our ability to taste deteriorates as we age, which is why some foods may taste stronger to children than adults.

Your Teeth Are Completely Unique

Did you know your teeth are as unique as your fingerprints? No two people have the same size, shape, and arrangement of teeth. The distinctive patterns of ridges and grooves in each person’s teeth can be as telling as DNA when it comes to forensic evidence.

Largest Tooth in the World

The largest teeth in the world belong to the sperm whale. The teeth in the lower jaw of this massive creature can measure up to 8 inches long and weigh over 2 lbs. each. As for the animal with the most teeth? Believe it or not, that would be snails, with over 20,000 tiny teeth in some species!

Baby Teeth Are More Important Than You Think

Baby teeth might seem temporary and less important, but they hold significant value in a child’s development. While they help children speak clearly and chew food, they also maintain the space in the gums necessary for the proper alignment of adult teeth.

Oral Health Impacts Your Overall Health

Research has increasingly shown that there is a link between oral health and general health. For example, gum disease is correlated with a host of health issues outside of the mouth, including heart disease, strokes, diabetes, and even respiratory problems. Maintaining oral hygiene isn’t just about keeping your smile bright; it’s about keeping your whole body healthy.

We are here to help keep your teeth healthy and strong. If you’re due for a check-up or have any questions about your tooth and gum health, reach out today. And be sure to ask for more fun facts about teeth at your next appointment!